Newsletter Autumn 2007

The new website


We are delighted, finally, to be able to introduce our new and long promised website which has been created by a family member, who generously donated her time and skills whilst recovering from serious spinal surgery. We can only hazard a guess at the enormous amount of energy and self discipline this has taken and are blown away by the results. We hope you will agree that it certainly does us justice. Not only does it cover the nature of our work with the animals but it has a comprehensive picture gallery which includes many photos of the local scenery.


We hope it will inspire more of you to visit between the hours of 10am and 4pm any day of the week - please let us know if possible. so we are not away on call or out checking the “outposts”!

donkeys with Sue and Jill


Jetta and Frankie were found in appalling condition at Drumshanbo Mart and after some negotiations the selling dealers agreed to relinquish them to the Sai Sanctuary. Jetta was extremely emaciated and dehydrated, has a damaged front leg that looks as if it may have been broken at some time and has had both ears clipped at the tips and on both outer edges (maybe tags that were torn out?).

welfare case welfare case welfare case

She also sports a large "S" brand on her ribcage which we have decided is "s" for "saved" and "Sanctuary", whatever it's original meaning.


Frankie, though not as thin, suffered a wracking cough that literally brought him to his knees in exhaustion. A heavy worm burden was almost certainly the main cause but the equine disease Strangles was suspected and he was kept in isolation and treated with fastidious care for some some weeks. Both ponies were terrified of humans so it took many weeks of patient work before we could confirm that Frankie was only a foal of around 8 months (he looked more like a goat on arrival!) and Jetta, although she looked old, is probably only about 7 years. We are happy to report both are now doing well and beginning to allow people into their space.


Early in June we were asked to take two donkey stallions as they had become "unmanageable". Part of the problem was a lack of qualified farriers in the area so the owner had to resort to using a local man who claimed to know how to trim the donkeys' hooves. The result was two hurt, frightened and angry donkeys and two badly kicked men, and the owner wanted us to getthe donkeys gelded at his own expense and work with them so he could handle them again, when if all was well, he would be happy to have them back.


Unfortunately the story does not have a happy ending. Because the bigger and older of the donkeys was such a handful, especially here with many elderly mares around, we arranged for them to be gelded at the Dublin University Veterinary Hospital where they could live in sterile conditions away from summer flies and field infections until they were healed.

The operations were successful and we were on our way to collect them when we received a call to wait a while longer: the older donkey had become suddenly and acutely unwell.


Later the same day he was euthanased on humane grounds and a post mortem showed that his caecum (part of the large intestine) was enlarged to three times its normal size and perforated with minute holes, through which stomach fluids had seeped into the abdomen. We can be sure that whatever the cause, it was unrelated to the castration operation and we thank the UVH for their professional care and compassion. Naturally we were all devastated, particularly the donkey's owner, and of course, the other smaller and younger donkey, who now suddenly had to cope with a whole new environment without his lifelong mate.

Here the story begins to improve as little Puzzle, as we called him, has turned the corner and is making many new friends of both the long-eared and human kind. He is a timid little fellow who had always been overshadowed by his big, ebullient friend but is gaining confidence daily and now allows gentle handling. We hope he will make another special friend in due course so they can return



In late June we lost dear Maudie, the last of our three really damaged "golden oldie" donkeys. Maudie was not the oldest in years but suffered with severely damaged front legs and hooves, so she was always kept with our other less mobile donkeys and ponies. Her passing was unexpected in that she appeared to be in good health and was motoring around the field grazing and sunning herself between showers the day before, but was found the next morning in her bed, where she had slipped away peacefully sometime in the early hours.

She was a gentle, much loved little donkey who had been a faithful companion to many other sick and infirm donkeys throughout her last years here at the Sanctuary and we miss her terribly.


documentary filming

Carola and Bernd Gotta, professional film makers in Germany before moving to Ireland a few years ago, have been busy for many months making a mini-documentary about our work at the Sanctuary.

Their enterprise caught the imagination of a local newspaper, The Leitrim Post, who published an article about them on 10th July, 2007. We thank them for their hours of patient and exacting work in all weathers - often not the weather they preferred! - and wish them well with their future plans, both for this undertaking and others. We very much look forward to seeing the finished film.



30th June 2007 saw many other casualties at the Drumshanbo Mart in Co. Leitrim.


As The Donkey Sanctuary is active on behalf of the donkeys at this Mart but no one is looking out for the horses and ponies it falls on us to fill this gap, hence the photos we have are of ponies rather than donkeys. Unfortunately there are many in need of help but with limited resources, limited space and limited (wo)manpower, we can only touch the tip of this iceberg.

Caryss was the lucky one from this particular Mart on this particular day - an elderly, emaciated Welsh pony mare with severely infected eyes and an extremely sore muzzle and nose from untreated sunburn which had blistered, cracked and become infected. Her selling dealer was aware of her problems and very happy to send her into care, for which we are grateful.

Caryss needed to see a dentist but as a hyperactive, anxious little soul who needed sedation before her mouth could be treated. We had to get some weight on her first as initially she was so underweight our vet was reluctant to administer sedative drugs. In August her teeth were finally checked and fortunately there is nothing startlingly wrong for a pony now confirmed to be around 25 years old - just a few sharp edges which were filed down for comfort. As you can see, she is progressing very well. (Passed away suddenly while eating her breakfast, March 2010, probable heart attack)

Horse Marts - Other needy ponies

welfare case

We are increasingly disturbed by the volume of donkeys, ponies and horses passing through the Horse Marts in very poor condition and we are working with the veterinary officers of The Department of Agriculture and local Gardai to try to improve ongoing conditions for these animals.

welfare casewelfare case

Ultimately it needs a thorough overhaul of our inadequate equine welfare laws to bring them into line with the rest of the EU - which is a long haul task.

However, Agricultural Minister Mary Coughlan announced at the Dublin Horse Show on 9th August that a tougher stand on Equine Passports is to be taken following an outbreak of Equine Infectious Anaemia (Swamp Fever) last year. when 27 horses had to be put down, either for having the disease or testing positive for carrying it.

Random inspection checks will be applied to Marts, Horse Shows, Fairs and other assemblies of horses and donkeys and will, hopefully make some impact on the number of sick animals being transported round the country to sales.


Crazy About Creatures Walk We had a truly overwhelming reponse to this year’s Crazy About Creatures Walk which took place at the end of May in beautiful weather and raised €6979.59, to be shared equally with ourselves and The Sligo SPCA. Special thanks go QUALITY HOTELS, GALWAY who kindly donated a voucher for two people to enjoy Bed and Breakfast - an apt prize for a faithful walker who, coincidentally, was the person who raised the most money in sponsorship for the day! Thanks too to the many other people who donated their time, gifts and sponsorship - you made it a really successful event enjoyed by all. We intend to use this income towards a more efficient and environmentally friendly waste management scheme - not romantic but a legal necessity .

sponsored walk Noah and Aggie the walk


Enormous thanks goes to Paula Roddy of Strandhill who organised a charity head shave and leg wax in June (the girl had her head shaved and the man had his legs waxed - ouch!) The event was very well supported and raised an oustanding €675.00! Thank you Paula and all local businesses who donated prizes for the event including Strandhill Surf School; Celtic Seaweed Baths, Strandhill; Strandhill Pharmacy; and David Martin Hair Salon, Sligo.

Thanks also to Claire and Sophie Litton and friends who donated their waitressing tips of €60 after a summer holiday event, to Mike Watson for his help with the sick and damaged animals and a multitude of other tasks, to Dale and Nina for their summer holiday work, and the many others of you who have given your valuable support in so many ways. Extra special thanks to Olivia Brustmann of Germany who, instead of accepting presents for her 40th birthday party asked for donations to the Sanctuary instead and raised a mind blowing €1,210!! Thank you Olivia for a novel idea and to her wonderfully generous friends for making it work so well.


Fairy Snow
Fairy on duty with Ciara

Our delightful little albino filly, Fairy Snow, who suffers terribly with “Sweetitch”, an allergy to midges, and who therefore needs special and time-consuming care throughout the midge season, has found a place in the hearts of a young family who own another pony with the same complaint. As experienced Sweetitch managers they are willing to take Fairy on our foster loan scheme for the foreseeable future. As the health and happiness of the animal is of paramount importance the joy of this scheme is that we know we can bring Fairy back to the Sanctuary if her new surroundings do not suit her, for whatever reason, and her new “foster parents” know they can return her should she become a problem for them. Naturally we all hope it works out well!



The Donkey Sanctuary of Co. Cork has been holding donkey workshops around the country this summer which include instruction, discussion and demonstrations on donkey welfare. We were delighted to be included in the local workshop which took place at Colooney, Co. Sligo on 23rd September and to loan some of our donkeys for the event. Noah and Aggie are both aged ex-working donkeys whose hooves had been neglected for most of their lives so demonstrate how best to manage permanently damaged hooves.

Hezekiah was selected (without prejudice!) to demonstrate some of the humane restraining skills needed with a donkey who is difficult about having his hooves handled. Anyone witnessing Hezekiah’s double back kick will be left in no doubt that farriers need great courage as well as finely honed skills! Psychology is essential as the donkey is always the stronger!!


ACTION ALERT FROM ICABS (The Irish Council Against Blood Sports)

The UK's Donkey Sanctuary and its Spanish subsidiary, El Refugio del Burrito, are calling on people to complain to the mayors of towns where donkeys have been used in bullfighting events. The groups are currently preparing a legal case to try to stop donkeys being used in future Becerradas (bullfights that use calfs). During the reported events, a blindfolded donkey was used in place of a picador-mounted horse and a calf was repeatedly provoked to attack the creature.

Please contact the majors of the towns and ask them to stop using donkeys in bullfighting events. Tell them that as long as donkeys, bulls and horses are subjected to the suffering of bullfighting, you will boycott their towns on any future visits to Spain. The contact details for the mayors are as follows:

Armando Garcia Cuenca Juan Jose Carvajal Martin
Burgohondo Town Hall Navaluenga Town Hall
Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Burgohondo Ayuntamento de Navaluenga
Plaza Mayor, 1 Plaza de Espana, 1
05113 Burgohondo 05100 Navaluenga
Avila, Spain Avila, Spain

Email: oficina@burgohonds. es Email: alcalde@navaluenga. es



This year we have two 6 x 4 (148 x 100mm) Christmas cards with envelopes (see left) and two blank 6 x 4 cards for your own message, all which have our usual high quality laminated finish and which sell at €1.00 each.

Please allow a little bit extra for postage where applicable and order early (as we have limited supplies) so we can get them to you in good time.


Thank you

Best wishes for a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year



Previous  |  Index  |   Next